Diplomatic sources confirmed that the maritime border talks between State Department’s acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs, David Satterfeld with Lebanese officials reflected a “very positive” atmosphere paving way for a real opportunity to restore Lebanon’s full sovereign rights and provide suitable conditions for extracting energy, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Thursday.
The sources told the daily on condition of anonymity that “there is a unified Lebanese position at the level of the government regarding the issue.”
Satterfield visited Beirut Tuesday and discussed with senior Lebanese officials the disputed maritime border with Israel as Lebanon looks to start offshore exploration for hydrocarbons.
According to Lebanese sources familiar with the talks, one of the points of discussion revolves around the question “at what level will the role of the United Nations be,” stressing that the UN represents the international reference and the main legitimacy of similar agreements.
The negotiation process would pass through resolving the outstanding points in the land border and demarcation of the maritime border at the same time, sources said.
There are proposals that the negotiation mechanism be similar to the negotiation mechanism for delineating the land border under the auspices of the United Nations, and in the presence of a US mediator, they said.
Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by its southern neighbour Israel, with which it has fought several wars.
Lebanon had reportedly received “positive signals of an American desire to play the role of mediator between Beirut and Tel Aviv”.